In the midst of the commotion over NEET in Tamil Nadu, the state passed a bill in the Assembly on September 15 providing 7.5 per cent sub-quota in admissions to state-run medical colleges for government school students clearing the all-India exam.
This has come as a big relief to students from the Tamil-medium schools whose numbers in state medical colleges fell sharply after NEET was introduced in 2016-17. An RTI query has revealed that there was a 90% fall in the number of Tamil-medium students who got admitted to state government medical colleges in the first year NEET was introduced in Tamil Nadu.
While 456 Tamil-medium students got admission in 2015-2016, the number stood at 438 in 2016-2017, the year NEET was introduced in the country. The Centre had, however, exempted Tamil Nadu students from the exam in the first year due to opposition from the former chief minister late J Jayalalithaa.
In the first year of NEET in Tamil Nadu in 2017-18, the number of students who got admission to government medical colleges fell to just 40, almost a 90 per cent fall from 438 the previous year, details obtained through the RTI query showed. It improved to 88 in 2018-19.
The RTI application was filed by advocate R Appavu Rathinam in Tirunelveli district in the end of 2019. The information that was obtained in response was doing the rounds on social media on Monday (September 14).
The slight increase in 2018-2019 was due to a large number of students taking the exam, said observers. In 2017-2018, about 1.31 lakh students had applied for the exam from Tamil Nadu. It went up to 1.40 lakh in 2018-2019.
Similar was the case with private medical colleges also. In 2015-2016, 54 Tamil-medium students went to medical colleges. After the number increased to 99 in 2016-2017, it fell to just 12 in 2017-2018 before improving to 18 2018-2019.
“We should speak with facts to oppose NEET,” said Appavu Rathinam. “Even though I got the reply to the RTI application in 2019, the details have not been in public till now. Recently, I gave it to a DMK leader and now it has got the much-needed attention,” he said.
Rathinam said that NEET has affected the reservation system and that is also a reason why there has been a fall in the Tamil-medium students joining medical colleges.
The sub-quota will ensure that about 250 to 300 seats will now be reserved for government school students, said PK Ilamaran, president of Tamil Nadu Teachers Association.
Asked why the number of Tamil-medium students getting enrolled in medical colleges was decreasing, Ilamaran said the NEET questions are based on the CBSE syllabus.
“In order to help the government school students, the state has opened 412 free NEET coaching centres across the state. In the last three years, nearly 32,000 students cleared the exam. But, only a handful were able to get into the medical colleges as they find the exam difficult. That is because from Class 1 to Class 12, they study the state board syllabus. They study the CBSE syllabus only for three or six months to crack the NEET. This is injustice,” he said.